The Ministry of Education of Ontario is committed to ensuring that all learners have the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed in a rapidly changing society and that they are provided with the learning opportunities and supports they require. In order to do this, the ministry establishes policies and programs regarding the governance, funding, and delivery of education.

The Education Actfootnote 5 and the regulations made under its authority are the main source of the legal responsibilities pertaining to special education. They provide comprehensive procedures for the identification of exceptional students, for the placement of those students in educational settings where the special education programs and services appropriate to students' needs can be delivered, and for the review of the identification of exceptional students and their placement. Many of these programs and services are also applicable to students who have not been identified as exceptional but who have special education needs, as identified by both their parents and the school board.

Our shared beliefs

Special education reform can provoke positive change across the entire system. For example, the guiding principles and key themes outlined in Learning for All: A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for All Students, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2013, p. 7) were first described in Education for All: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With Special Education Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6 (2005). All educators need to consider these principles in their program planning.

The guiding principles are:

  • All students can succeed.
  • Each student has his or her own unique patterns of learning.
  • Successful instructional practices are founded on evidence-based research, tempered by experience.
  • Universal design and differentiated instruction are effective and interconnected means of meeting the learning or productivity needs of any group of students.
  • Classroom teachers are the key educators for a student's literacy and numeracy development.
  • Classroom teachers need the support of the larger community to create a learning environment that supports all students.
  • Fairness is not sameness.


  • footnote[5] Back to paragraph The Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.2, as amended, referred to hereafter as the Education Act, or the Act.